Episode 37: Navigating the Job Search Process in Tech as a Woman of Color

Welcome back to Tech Forward, listeners! Today, for the final episode of our job seekers series, I spoke with Shondra McCray. A web developer and user experience strategist, Shondra recently moved from Texas to the San Francisco Bay Area to explore opportunities in tech. During our conversation, Shondra shares her journey navigating the job search process in Silicon Valley, as well as her advice for others looking to get their foot in the door in tech.

After her UX role at Parker University and other jobs in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, relocating to the Bay Area in June of this year was a massive shift for Shondra in more ways than one. In addition to the much higher housing costs, Silicon Valley’s professional culture was a stark departure from Texas. Some companies used language in their job descriptions that signaled their desire to hire a man for the role. Others made it clear that they would only consider candidates with an Ivy League education. For anyone looking to enter the tech sector, Shondra stresses the importance of job seekers being honest about their skills — and how those skills might translate differently from one region to another. “I realized when I moved that I could call myself a rockstar developer back in Texas — but not out here. But I’m open to working on skills that will add value to a company.”

Shondra also advises job seekers to thoroughly research prospective employers. “Especially with startups here in Silicon Valley, I look at whether they started with a seed round or not, and what round they’re in currently.” When it comes to the interview, Shondra encourages interviewees to make the process a dialogue where both employer and potential employee take turns asking and answering questions. “I like to write down deliverables and things I can contribute, as well as things that I’d want from the company, such as time off and health insurance. I need to know how these companies invest in their employees.”

For companies looking to attract talent such as herself, Shondra again stresses the importance of a respectful and engaged dialogue. “Treat your candidates as if their time is priceless, because it is. Show the people you interview that you care about their growth, not just their contributions.” Since moving to the Bay Area, her own interview experiences have been both positive and negative. The best experiences weren’t necessarily ones that ended in a job offer, but those where she was made to feel like a member of the team.   

Shondra, thank you so much for coming on the show and giving our listeners this glimpse into the current interview and hiring process. I wish you the best of luck as you continue your career journey. Thank you also to all of you out there listening, subscribing, and sharing the show. See you next week!

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